In a poetic and emotionally charged account of a journey back to her native Japan, Mori creates beautiful scenes even as she uncovers painful truths about her family and her past. Not knowing what else to do for a sabbatical, novelist Mori (Creative Writing/St. Norbert's College; Shizuko's Daughter, 1993) applied for a grant to travel to Japan, which she had left 13 years earlier, when she was a junior in college. This chronicle covers her departure from her adopted America; her rediscovery of her hometown of Kobe; her reacquaintance with the land and people she had so eagerly fled; and her remembrances of a childhood that included her mother's suicide when Mori was 12 and her father's subsequent beatings and cruelties (he forbade Mori to see her mother's relatives and, whenever his new wife threatened to leave because of Mori, would menace his daughter with a meat knife). Her book, which begins like entries in a conscientious traveler's journal, soon becomes a memoir wrought with suspense and wisdom. Will she contact her father? Will she understand her parents' early love for each other and their subsequent loss? In her initial encounters, Mori has difficulty communicating: Not only is her Japanese rusty, but she also respects the customs of Japanese restraint. So she says little and later dwells on what she should have said. But after visiting her mother's grave and relatives, she arrives at an emotional watershed. The book becomes richly rewarding as Mori opts for the most complicated, interesting, and difficult answers. She has an acute eye for metaphors. Some are delicate—like a stone slab at the bottom of a temple gate over which people step because it is a bad omen to touch it. Others, like the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima (whose victims include her relatives), are explosive. This beautifully written voyage through a ``legacy of loss'' is a trip well worth taking.

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 1995

ISBN: 0-8050-3260-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1994

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.


New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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